Tossing cigarette butts out car windows will land smokers in hot water with authorities.
Hot weather, dry grass and a lit cigarette tossed from the window of a car don’t mix well, and Const. Markus Anastasiades, public information officer for the Saanich Police Department, says the fine for ignoring proper butt etiquette can result in a hefty fine.
Depending on the severity of the circumstances, an officer may issue an $81 fine under the Motor Vehicle Act for littering or a $575 fine under the B.C. Wildfire Act for the mishandling of a burning substance in or within one kilometre of a forest or grassy area, Anastasiades explained. For example, if the lit substance is dropped in a grassy area on a hot day, a fire would likely spark and then spread so the Wildfire Act fine would be fitting, he said.
Anastasiades emphasized that those who choose to smoke while travelling in a vehicle are reminded to dispose of their butts and any other lit objects responsibly to avoid fines and fires.
He pointed out that all drivers should avoid littering of any kind and anyone who witnesses someone disposing of a lit substance in a dangerous manner should call the local police department’s non-emergency line – in Saanich, that’s 250-475-4321. Anastasiades noted that witnesses should also keep track of the date, time and location of the incident along with the driver’s licence plate so that an officer can follow up with the owner of the vehicle.
Anastasiades emphasized that if the improperly discarded cigarette butt causes a fire, witnesses should call 911 so firefighters can respond.